While Assam is reeling under high floods, the Brahmaputra Board has been found “diverting” funds earmarked for mitigating floods to pay for high-profile holiday for VVIPs.

Floods in Assam created havoc this year and 30 districts of the state have been badly affected.

Nearly 20 people died due to drowning, and there are reports of death of nearly 50 animals, including five rhinos in the Kaziranga National Park.

It has come to fore that about Rs 40 lakh earmarked for mitigating floods was diverted to pay for an “extended holiday” for Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari and his family members in Kaziranga.

The Brahmaputra Board, in an RTI reply, informed that it paid Rs 31, 48, 326 to “charter a aircraft” for four days from December 29, 2017 for the visit of Nitin Gadkari and his family members from New Delhi to Jorhat.

Also Read – Centre releases Rs 251.55 crore for Assam floods

Gadkari and his family members flew from New Delhi in the chartered flight at 7 am on December 29, 2017, and landed in Jorhat at 10 am.

The minister flew to Majuli, the largest river island of the world in a chartered helicopter, the Brahmaputra Board informed.

In Majuli, the union minister laid foundations for the Brahmaputra Board complex, protection of Majuli from flood and erosion and flagged off regular cargo service from Pandu to Dhubri.

The aircraft was parked for the VVIP in Jorhat airport, and flew back with the VVIP guests to New Delhi on January 1, 2018.

While the total cost to charter the aircraft for four days was Rs 62, 96,652, the Brahmaputra Board shouldered 50 per cent of the expenditure.

The remaining amount of Rs 31, 48, 326 was paid by the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation.

Also Read – Assam floods: 3 go missing as boats capsize in river Brahmaputra

Despite falling sick during the foundation stone laying ceremonies in Majuli, Gadkari flew to Kaziranga National Park in the chartered helicopter and checked into a luxury resort along with his family members.

After reviewing the national highway projects of Northeast states on January 29, the union water resources minister and his family members enjoyed cultural programmes at the resort along with senior Assam ministers.

After elephant and jeep safaris in the Kaziranga National Park, Gadkari on December 30, 2017, spent only one hour for work.

Between 11 am to 12 noon he attended the ninth meeting of the High-Powered Review Board of the Brahmaputra Board.

As December 31, 2017 was a Sunday, the Gadkari family continued to be in a total holiday mood. The minister did not have any official engagements on that day.

Also Read – Assam flood: ‘Child Friendly Space’ Centre opened at Dhemaji relief camp

And after celebrating the New Year eve in the luxury resort, the family flew back to New Delhi at 8 am on January 1, 2018 on public money.

According to the officials of the luxury resort in Kaziranga National Park, the payment for the rooms was paid by the Brahmaputra Board.

In addition to the payment for the rooms, including luxury suite rooms, the Brahmaputra Board also paid for the food of the VVIP guests.

While poor people in Assam and the poor wildlife in the Kaziranga National park are facing the wrath of floods during the last one week, Gadkiri is nowhere to be seen.

Earlier, Gadkari had promised people of Assam with “permanent solutions” to the state’s perennial sorrow.

On July 26, 2017, Nitin Gadkari had announced that dredging of Brahmaputra would take off by September. The plan was dredging a stretch of 640 km of the Brahmaputra from Sadiya to Dhubri.

Also Read – Assam Floods: The Annual ‘Tandava’ of the Brahmaputra (Part-III)

Gadkari had also promised to undertake construction of the Brahmaputra Expressway on both sides of the mighty river.

Sadly, nothing happed. People of Assam are again caught in the whirlpool of floods. They lost their home, cultivation is totally devastated.

Rajiv Yadav, chairman of Brahmaputra Board was not available for comments.

But, why did the Brahmaputra Board pay to charter an aircraft for Gadkari and his family members?

As per the mandate, the Brahmaputra Board is supposed to carry out survey and investigations in Brahmaputra Valley and to prepare master plan for the control of floods, bank erosion and improvement of drainage.

The Brahmaputra Board is still nowhere near to its mandate to control floods in Assam. There has been no progress with the projects in Majuli. Construction for the Brahmaputra Board complex in Majuli is yet to begin.

Anirban Roy

Anirban Roy is Editor-in-Chief of Northeast Now. He can be reached at: editor@nenow.in

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